January 11, 2022
By Sam Forbes
In September 2020, Nebraska hunter Chace Quinn lost his father suddenly to pancreatic cancer. Not only did Chase have to bear the loss of his life’s mentor, but he also lost his best hunting partner.
“We always put in for tags together,” said Quinn. “So I told my wife I should probably just put in for a preference point because I’m not going to be able to do this.”
But Quinn applied for tags in 2021 anyways.
Quinn was diligent about checking his online profile on a regular basis, and the day before the tag drawings were announced, he noticed that all of his preference points had disappeared. This same thing had happened to Quinn on an antelope tag in the past, so he knew what it meant and he didn’t waste any time getting started on scouting.
The hunter started by calling landowners in the area, but he also reached out to a family friend who used to be a federal trapper in the area. Donnie Freda helped Quinn get in contact with a few other landowners in the unit he drew for. Needless to say, his scouting was off to a good start.
Quinn’s buddy Andy McQuiston was just finishing up a bowhunt in Colorado, so he swung back to Nebraska to join him on the first day of the hunt just outside Crawford, Nebraska.
On the first day of the hunt, the two friends did a bit of scouting and met the landowners. It was 80 degrees and the action seemed slow, but on the second morning, the two were able to spot a few elk from about a mile away.
“That evening we made our way into where we were seeing these bulls in the meadow. That night we had eight or nine bulls bugling,” said Quinn. “I’d never been in anything like that. I’d never even been elk hunting. It was just neat, and I was just taking it all in.”
Quinn wanted his hunt to last, and he told McQuiston that he really didn’t want to shoot anything that night. But the two kept hearing a big, deep bugle that sounded close.
With about ten minutes to go until shooting light closed the day, a big 6x7 popped up about 250 yards away.
“We let him work his way up to us as we watched him bugling the whole way,” recalls Quinn. “It was like something out of a magazine, like something you see on TV. It was beautiful.”
The bull eventually made his way to 175 yards and turned broadside. Quinn squeezed off a round from his father’s .338 Ruger, but the bull didn’t even flinch.
“Well, you better rack another one in him!” exclaimed McQuiston
So, Quinn shot again, but he hit the bull a bit high. After a third shot the two hunters watched the bull fold just before stepping back into the dark timber. Quinn had killed his very first elk, an absolute beauty, with his father’s hunting rifle. A rifle that had been used to take more than 20 elk over a lifetime of hunting in Colorado.
“That was the gun all of his friends told me I was going to shoot, no matter what,” Quinn chuckled.
It was his father’s dream to take an elk like this. He had always wanted a 370” bull. When I asked Chase to share the feelings he felt after watching the bull fall, he could barely make the words out.
The two hunting buddies were dumbfounded about what had happened to that first shot. But as they began their walk towards the elk, they noticed a clean break on a fence wire. After putting two and two together, the friends concluded it must have skipped off the wire and missed the bull completely. They stepped over the fence and descended upon the trophy bull.
“When you see something like that in person, it gets to you,” said Quinn “It was pretty emotional. I couldn’t believe just how big Nebraska elk really are.”
Chase measured the bull himself and his rough score came in right at 368”. His main beams measured 52” and 54”. It was a large bull with plenty of character too. Quinn couldn’t have been happier.
“He was just the kind of bull I wanted, and that’s what I got. I was tickled pink.”
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